It is that time of year again! School supplies are on sale, mailings arrive with teacher assignments, summer reading is frantically being completed. Where did that math packet go? If your house is like many, parents are counting the days until the children finally go back to school while the children have forbidden the word “school” be mentioned in the house.
If we experience an actual physical threat (such as a near car accident) our body reacts instantly with an alarm system. Our Sympathetic Nervous System causes us to breathe faster, our heart rate increases, we sweat, our blood pressure increases. This is a natural bodily reaction and does not harm us. We call this a “fight-flight reaction.” However, sometimes there is no actual physical threat but our belief that something dangerous is about to occur.
It’s a common scene at my house: I’m washing dishes, the baby starts to cry, the 2-year-old drops her milk, and the dog barks to go out. My thoughts can read something like this: “I just wanted to get this one thing done! Where is my husband? Are the kids and the dog conspiring against me?” Or, I can pause. Take a breath. Recognize my options for responding to the scene, and acknowledge that I can only do one thing at a time. “The dog has to go out. The baby needs to be picked up…so does the milk. Right now, I am washing this dish.”